IT & Operations

Participants blog: How to write a thesis without going to pieces?

August 14, 2014

Focus is what you need to write your thesis, notices participant Hugo Ouwehand. But that's not really easy. "Until you realize you’re weeks behind the original schedule, and something needs to be done."

Ever since I started blogging people ask me: “How do you write a thesis anyway?” Actually, they hardly ever ask that, it seems all they want to know is how I ended up jobless in a caravan….. Well, that has already been covered in my last blog, so let me talk you through my experiences researching and writing.

Thesis proposal

You start off with a thesis proposal, in which the goals of your research are described, the steps you plan to take during the research; it also includes a detailed time planning. It could be a very useful document to guide you through the research, if only you remembered to consult it once in a while.

Data

Easy. Data comes from “the system”. Just make a dump out of ERP, WMS, OTD or whatever abbreviation it is you’re company has installed. Except that that one thing you want to know, well, the system doesn’t work that way….. So you have to combine data from different sources to get the information you need. And finding the one element that translates data into information will probably require weeks of work and lots of Excel skills.

Literature research

It is scientific research after all. So you start to look for interesting publications on the subject of your research. And you’ll find them, but never in the first place you look. So you go from paper to paper, deeper and deeper into the subject, until you realize you came to know that astronauts cannot belch (there is no gravity to separate liquid from gas in their stomachs), or that 10 percent of all human beings ever born are alive at this very moment. It’s clearly time to:

Focus

Cut to the heart of the matter, what am I doing? This is not getting me anywhere on time. Let’s do things differently. This is normally the moment you remember your research proposal. You realize you’re weeks behind the original schedule, and something needs to be done. So you start to actually write.

Structure

Start by writing down the chapters you want to include in your thesis. Then divide them into paragraphs, and you start to have an idea what you are looking for. A third of what you need you already have from all those previous weeks, a third comes from your research proposal, and the other third still needs work.

Seeing the light

Now that you finally know how to do things, you speed up like never before, making up for lost time. Now, couldn’t you have handled this better? Actually, probably not. After all, to quote a certain Albert Einstein: “If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?” 

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